DIY Bali Bikini

thumb__MG_0991_1024As always I feel like I should offer some kind of explanation as to where (TF) I’ve been hiding out but it would be a heavily fabricated tale involving schedules, motherhood, auto-immune rashes, absent camera lenses and yeah I’d rather slap myself with a dead fish than hear it too. So here’s a DIY bikini! I have to say, it is one of my most favourite, un-hand-made looking hand-makes ever. Maybe even THE favourite. And so you’re not under any illusions, it was followed up by one of the worst sewing fails ever (two words: dude crotch). Why am I sewing swimwear in the middle of Australian winter, literally after finishing a cosy Linden Sweatshirt, you ask? An event that’s not that unusual but this time my beloved little brother announced he is moving to New York, like, next week and thought we should brocation someplace warm and lush before he leaves: step in Bali!
ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali Bikini
Yes of course my first thoughts were DIY TRAVEL WARDROBE. But then, I didn’t want to get all manic over it only to get to our Aruyvedic Yoga retreat to have to explain that my dosha was all out of balance due to lifestyle factors i.e sewing ALL the things. Plus I was, am, happily in the zone of winter sewing. So, I settled on a compromise: One Pinterest moodboard + four sewn pieces. Which turned into two pieces, one of which was the aforementioned fail. In the end, just this bikini, which thank gaaaawd, turned out pretty damn fine!ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniLet’s talk about the patterns first. I have so much love for both of these. For the top I used the Beverly Twisted Bikini by Named, which is a fully lined, halter neck style top with long wide straps that can be twisted or knotted at the front and closes with a clasp at the back. It also has totally invisible boning inserted in the sides (second pic below) for extra support. In one of those serendipitous sewing scenarios I had the fabric, the lining, the under-bust elastic and the clasp all in my stash and just so happened to have an old and dying bikini with nearly the exact size boning needed for the Beverly. From my experience with Named patterns, the instructions are always on point. And if you’re going to be tackling something like boning, or boning in a stretch fabric, you really want to know that you’re going to be guided through it like a toddler. I was so seriously impressed. And so excited to melt the ends of boning with actual fire!ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniIt’s also obvious how much thought has gone into the details and finishes. Being fully lined, the overall result is so clean and so pro. Only one section of visible top stitching, on the under bust band, but if you’re having a purest moment, like I was, you can move this stitching slightly over and ‘stitch in the ditch’.  I will admit, when I first saw this pattern, I wasn’t so sure I’d even be able to wear it. Not so much bust size, which is something to factor in, but more so if you desire support via bust ‘shaping’. What is not obvious from the pattern photos or the description is that there are secret sections of swimwear elastic sewn into and around the bust which are absolutely necessary and also do a damn fine job of gently ushering your girls where they need to be. Something to take note of, which isn’t mentioned in the pattern, is you will see both your lining and main fabric in the twisted section. I initially cut out swimwear lining before realising this and had to go back and cut new lining pieces out of the main fabric. Only I didn’t have enough so one strap is made out of two pieces joined together.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniThe bottoms were always going to be high waisted! I probably could have copied them from this swimsuit but I wanted to try a pattern that was out there for comparison. And also to be more helpful. The Ohhh Lulu Ava briefs make the perfect high waist bikini bottoms. The only modification I made was adding a waistband, which changed the order of construction slightly but ended up making the finish super neat. If you’re on the taller side you may need to add more length in the waist, which you can either do by just extending the line of the waist upwards or adding a waistband.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali Bikini A waistband makes a nice feature and also means they’re less likely to ride down than when sewn with just a thin line of swimsuit elastic, when water-logged. Something I found out with this pair. Construction-wise the waistband ends up sandwiched between the lining and main fabric. You sew this all inside out and turn back the right way through the leg holes (the crotch seam is already sewn at this point). Then the final step is adding elastic to the leg holes and topstitching (zig zag or beloved coverstitch) down through both lining and main fabric together.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniThe fabric is swimwear lycra from my fav ladies at Tessuti. They always have the most gorgeous swimwear fabric and I like to check in regularly come summer! I love it’s whole boho Tigerlily / Zimmerman vibe. Finding exciting swimwear prints is not hard, there are lots of hot spots online now. I keep thinking how great it would be if Spoonflower were to offer up an amazing quality swimsuit fabric as another option to get designs printed on. I sent them an email about it last year. I think I will keep pestering. In the mean time another source of beautiful swimwear fabric I’ve discovered is Pretty Mercerie. There’s also The Fabric Store (in store only) and Pitt Trading.ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniAaah, Bali. Colourful. Intoxicating. A feast for the senses. And incense. So much incense! You really do get the feeling you are in the heart Chakra of the world. We spent the first part of the week at Sukhavati Yoga Retreat which, should you ever find yourself in that part of the world, is something else. Twice daily yoga, sumptuous vegetarian cuisine, compulsory daily massages (Ok, so breasts are included apparently), scrubs, facials, fresh fruit and vegie juices to your room (my favourite part) in a rainforest, on the edge of a creek, in a little village. The end. ADA SPRAGG | Not Your Nanna's Sewing | DIY Bali BikiniNot even! We took day trips to nearby Ubud which had a very Byron Bay feel (and lots of penis keyrings, see below) and Seminyak, for some shopping and eats. Came back with shoes and a RTW playsuit, of all things. The last two days were spent at the amazing Ayana Resort at Jimbaran. Of course being travel, there were moments of overwhelm. Like the time I got served up a crab appetiser literally seconds after miming No Seafood, NO SEAFOOD.  Overall, an exquisite adventure…Processed with VSCOcam with f1 presetIMG_5313Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIMG_5302IMG_5298IMG_5186Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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  • Rebeccawrote:

    Gorgeous bikini and photographs! I love all the little details like the gold clasp and tassel trim. Really beautiful! Sounds like an amazing trip!

  • Blogless Annawrote:

    One word… Smoking! And as a lover of all things orange at the moment… that tassel!

  • salliewrote:

    Oh what an exquisite vacation!! And how fun that you went with your brother! Of course the bikini is perfection – from fabric choice, to pattern(s) to tassel! You look super hot!!

  • Teriwrote:

    Beautiful pictures. The bikini, the scenery and the fabric are all gorgeous.

  • Anneke Caraminwrote:

    Gorgeous! I’m guessing Spoonflower won’t do swimwear fabric for a while… Their printing-on-demand method already means that the prints are a bit more fragile (I don’t know if it’s gotten better but I had some pieces printed a few years ago and the fabric faded a lot faster than storebought fabrics… Like five shades lighter after two months of washing and wearing. Swimsuits get a lot of hard wear and chemicals and salt, so I guess they’d fade even quicker.

  • Vanwrote:

    So cute! I can’t believe you made that, it’s gorgeous.

  • Laurenwrote:

    I love it! The “patchwork” style of the fabric is so lovely. Also Bali looks like the best!

  • crab&beewrote:

    Oh my word… I love the earthy gorgeousness of that fabric, not a hint of sportiness. Beautifully done, madame.

  • Katiewrote:

    Gorgeous, as always! And your girls look pretty amazing in that bikini top — you have me rethinking my decision that I don’t need that pattern …

  • Rachelwrote:

    So stunnning! I love this make! Such a perfect print for a bikini – and good tip about self lining the swim suit for the twist! Hoping to whip one of these up next season…!

  • Christywrote:

    Sounds wonderful and great bikini. I still haven’t braved a two piece since having kids! You go girl!!!

  • Birgitwrote:

    I love your bikini, it looks like it could come straight from Free People or Anthropologie! Wonderful pictures, too! It looks like you had a great time 🙂

  • Veronica Darlingwrote:

    Love it and what gorgeous photos! Bali is a true location for it! I am gathering up lots of swimwear options, fully lined is definitely a plus!


  • christinewrote:

    Total stunner! I loved this on IG for the fabric alone, but seeing it complete is so lovely. I think I might actually tackle this (or something similar) for an upcoming Palm Springs holiday…

  • Sandeshwrote:

    Absolute fabulousness!! The bikini rocks it, love the photos and love Bali, so jealous!!

  • Jillian - SewUnravelledwrote:

    I’m gonna admit to not reading one word of your blog post having been totally mesmerised by your AMAZING DIY bikini! Good lord woman, could you look an more perfectly beach ready. You are a talent!

  • Kat @ House of Lanewrote:

    You are so ridiculously clever! I love this top on you. I love the design but was worried it wouldn’t work for my size. Good to hear there is some extra support in it. Awesome fabric + great design execution = perfection!

  • Heather Louwrote:

    YOU GORGEOUS MINX. That tan, that suit, THAT BODY (motherhood my ass!) I seriously love this bikini so much. Named is slowly crawling into my heart – such thoughtful designs. I don’t really know they manage to release huge collections twice a year to be honest! KILLING IT SOPHIE! Hope you had a magnificent time with your bro and left Bali with all your Chakras aligned like dominoes. xo

  • Jenwrote:

    I also had a hard time reading because I couldn’t stop looking at the photos! The bikini looks amazing (as do you!) and what an amazing trip! You’re making me want to drop my attempt to finish a few half made things and start working on some swimwear. ARG WOMAN!!! Stop being so inspiring! Just kidding, don’t stop. <3

  • Sonjawrote:

    SOPHIE YOU EFFING BABE!! This is GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!! YOU are gorgeous! This is amazing! Now please tell me you’ll be coming to visit your brother in New York at some point! 🙂

  • Chiewrote:

    I love this! Looks so great on you. I have no boobs so when I wear a triangle bikini, it looks sad. I might try this halter pattern without the cutout, since, again I don’t have any cleavage to show off!

    Looks like you had a great time in Bali!

  • Erinwrote:

    First off, amazing job with the bikini. I’m about to embark on a bikini making journey here myself, so this just got me pumped. Secondly, I’d like to take a moment to whine about how unfair it is that Bali is so far away from the USA. It would be a dream vacation for me to make it there one day… 😉

  • Lizwrote:

    Wowzers – what a great job on this set! Both the ‘kini and you look a.ma.zing!!!

  • Madywrote:

    WOW! This maybe the best handmade swimsuit I’ve seen yet! I love, love , love this fabric!

  • Adelinewrote:

    Squeals! I just want to say how I love reading blog posts from you because I love how you pay attention to the smallest details!

  • kristinwrote:

    OMG it’s amazing, so perfect. especially love those tassels. i want to go to bali!

  • poppykettlewrote:

    I LOVE Bali. Specifically, I love Ubud. Easily the best place on that little island. So… picturesque among so many other lovely things! I adore your bikini – just fabulous. Your halter top turned out waay way better than the sample on the Named website! Just Gorgeous 🙂

  • Julia Fetisovawrote:

    Very beautiful swim suit! Amazing pics!


  • ashleywrote:

    Bali! I’m so jealous. Your photos are gorgeous, as is your bikini. I am about to make this suit and wondered if you inserted bra cups into the top? Sometimes I’m not sure two layers of swim fabric is enough coverage. I love your version!

  • PsychicSewerKathleenwrote:

    Beautiful Sophie! And such sewing mojo! Love the bikini and the way you constructed it but WOW Bali looks like the absolute brocation 🙂

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